How many times have you noticed that people tend to congregate in the kitchen? No matter how comfortable you make the rest of the house, guests and family head for the bright lights and tasty aromas of the hardest working spot in your home. The kitchen is the best part of a home, and preserving its warmth while updating its look, feel and function is one of the challenges of kitchen design.
A kitchen makeover can add to the value of your home and make your time cooking more efficient and enjoyable. There are lots of reasons to update your kitchen, but beyond the siren call of the glossy design magazines and those shiny appliances you’ve been eyeing at the local appliance store, there are some lurking pitfalls and design gotchas that you should be aware of.
We came up with 10 common kitchen design mistakes and offer some suggestions on how to avoid them. The good news is that most of these problems are easy to avoid if you do a little planning.
10. Making Room to Work, Planning Your Counter Space
One of the biggest complaints about kitchen design is the lack of countertops. You want your countertops to be decorative, but they have to be functional, too. When updating your kitchen, make sure that you have enough countertop workspace by evaluating how you use your countertops now and planning for your future needs. The amount of space you need will be specific to your circumstances and will vary with the size limitations of your room and budget
9. The Golden Triangle – Good Layouts
In interior design, the kitchen triangle links the three areas of greatest activity: the sink, stove and refrigerator. There should be unobstructed access to and from all three of these locations. Of the three, the sink will see the most action and should have easy access to the stove and refrigerator, as well as your countertop workstations. Narrow aisles, inconvenient door swings and islands that cut off direct access to these key areas make kitchens less efficient and less convenient. When you’re in the design stages, a few extra steps may not seem like much, but after a few hundred trips around a jutting island corner, you’ll start to feel differently.
8. Room for Storage
Kitchen storage is prime real estate. It’s tempting to place your design dollar where it will give you some real visual payback, like flooring, countertops or beautiful appliances. The work-a-day life of a kitchen includes lots of tools that contribute to preparing and serving meals. A big part of the enjoyment of your kitchen will be how accessible these labor-saving items are. If you have to go out to the garage every time you want to use your wok, fryer or waffle iron instead of having them available at your fingertips, you may start to feel cheated, especially after the newness of all those shiny, expensive surfaces has worn off.
7. Island Design
The prospect of installing a kitchen island offers a tantalizing promise of additional storage, prep and serving space in the kitchen, but choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a disaster. Remember that the kitchen is a work area, and anything that gets in the way of working efficiently is going to be a problem. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations will create bottlenecks and big hassles. One solution is to add a sink or stove to the island and make it part of the functional kitchen triangle. Another is to position the island so that it has lots of space around it and doesn’t impede foot traffic.
6. Light It Up
Rooms generally need three types of lighting: general lighting for overall illumination, task lighting, and accent lighting. As you evaluate the work areas in your kitchen, start to focus on how you’ll provide each spot with the light it needs. Most kitchens have general lighting that’s provided by an overhead fixture together with natural light from a window or ambient light contributed by a fixture in an adjoining room. Where many kitchen design strategies fail is in not providing enough task lighting. Prep areas, the sink and the stove should all have dedicated task lighting. The locations for these fixtures should be identified before you begin work because they’ll require electrical service.
5. Air It Out
If you’ve ever walked into someone’s home and smelled last night’s fish tacos lingering on the stale air, you’ll understand the importance of good ventilation. Inexpensive range hoods simply circulate dirty, stale air, trapping large particulates in simple onboard filters. A good ventilation system will help improve the quality of your indoor air and also help keep your kitchen cleaner by venting odors and airborne grease particles from the house that would otherwise land on your cabinets, countertops and appliances or travel to other rooms. Good ventilation will also help to extend the life of your appliances.
4. Toss the Garbage
Dealing with trash in kitchen design has often been a matter of sticking a bin near an outside door or under the sink. These days, with the advent of recycling, there’s more to refuse than meets the eye. Planning for your trash management needs involves a four-pronged approach. You’ll almost certainly have a standard garbage disposal, possibly a trash compactor and also an area in which to place kitchen scraps and packaging destined for the weekly trash pick-up. You’ll need space for recyclables, too
3. Watch the Budget
When you undertake a major kitchen redesign, a good rule of thumb is that the cost of the design shouldn’t exceed 20 percent of the value of your home. In a challenging real estate market, a new, shiny kitchen may mean the difference between selling and not selling your home quickly. Another budgetary consideration you should keep in mind – you will only remodel your kitchen once, so make sure you don’t cut out what youreally want to keep the price down. Most likely, you will not like the outcome, and remodel your kitchen again the way you wanted it the first time.
2. Too Trendy
So, you’ve decided on a style, evaluated your space and settled on a budget. Now you’re ready to get started, right? Well, not quite. One other thing you should consider is the fickle nature of fate. Pomegranate may be the most stylish color around this season, but chances are that in five years, those luscious red hues are going to look garish and dated. Most trendy designs have a short half-life, and when they’re out, they’re really out. Where kitchen design is concerned, wood finishes and trims, countertop colors and materials, flooring styles and just about everything else can be an expression of the current fashion. Even if you’re sure that red will be your favorite color forever, your circumstances may change and when you move, the new owners may not share your passion.
1. Stick to the Plan
Moving from the planning stages to the actual work may involve some inconvenience and expense, but if you’ve done your homework, the rewards of a good kitchen redesign should be worth the effort. To ensure your success, be sure to decide on a plan and stick with it. Changing your mind once the work has begun can be expensive and usually results in more than a few unexpected and frustrating glitches.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your kitchen is to pick a contractor who has lots of experience with kitchen design. It also helps if you can communicate with him/her easily and feel comfortable with their professional style. Just to be sure you have the right company, check previous work by asking for references and check with the Better Business Bureau in your area.